In the Weeds

It’s about the process. I’ve said it before and I say it to myself every day. But it’s more than that. It’s about connection, meditation, intuition and evolution. The work I do is no longer precious, no longer final, no longer static. It lives on, breathes inconsistency and opens new insights. This process keeps me thinking. This process brings pieces together. Here’s a brief summary about the process for a new piece, In the Weeds.

I started with this piecing composition. My thoughts were about sentinels — beings tuned into signals that may not be heard.

I did a lot of stitching on this piece, both by machine and by hand. There was an inkling of dissatisfaction during that time. But my motto tends to be “more is more” right? You can see the warping that is happening to the piece as I add more texture. Not a good sign most of the time.

I let it hang on the studio wall for about 4 weeks. Then I put it into the divide and conquer bin. This piece would not see the light of day until I could resolve its main problems — frivolity without reality, composition inadequacies, warpage meant for the sea not the wall.

Then one day I had an itch to destroy, erase, and engage.

I ended up with 96 4” x 4” squares. And it felt really good.

Reassembly took a few days. This was one of the solutions I had. Still not there. I attach the blocks to a substrate. This time I used drapery blackout fabric. It stitches very well and maintains its shape.

Of course, I am not shy about adding details. And, I added a few pieces from other quilts that were in the divide and conquer bin.

It was about this time that I knew the title of the piece, In the Weeds. According to the Cambridge dictionary: Concerned with so many problems or so much work that you are finding it difficult to deal with something; or concerned with small details, often when this prevents you from understanding what is important.

I’ve been in the weeds about a few things lately. Understanding what is happening in our governmental bodies, concern about the environment, moving into the third period of life. The catharsis of stitching helps quell the storm.

In the Weeds, final composition. Paula Kovarik, 34” x 39.5” The sentinels are still there but they are more active in their environment.

In the Weeds, Paula Kovarik, back panel.

Beastie Boy and His Pals

Sometimes pieces emerge out of my subconscious without warning. My task is to allow that to happen. That is what happened with Beastie Boy and His Pals

I am appalled by the way our government is being run. The creatures that inhabit the power centers have changed the way I think about threats. As a citizen I vote in and pay attention to local, regional and federal issues. I read articles that discuss both sides of issues. I listen to the news from other countries. I try to sift out the skewed, embellished and outright outrageous to come to an understanding. And I feel helpless.

Solace comes in the work. 

Beastie Boy and His Pals started with this scrappy composition. I have learned that scraps can talk. 

The composition had two sides. A cool side and a warm side with static in between. Similar to the dialog being broadcast to us each day without rest. Like the two parties playing their he said he said game. 

As mammals we are predisposed to see faces in inanimate objects. The instinct is a way to protect ourselves from potential threats. So as I added sections to the composition I started seeing beasts -- beasts with eyes, beasts with tails, beasts with goggles. I liked how the three beastie figures outlined in the pic at the right started to create a nest of a composition. 

But then I turned it upside down and liked it even more. Beastie Boy appeared to hunch into the room and his pals were all there. 

beastieboy_final1_PaulaKovarik.jpg

The dialog continued on a detail level. 

Arrowmont daydreams

I heard from the folks at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts yesterday. They let me know that the workshop I am teaching (Follow the Thread) in October is a GO. Reading the email instantly brought up thoughts of those cool mountain nights, the rushing waters of nearby streams, the great fun I had working with my students, and the feeling that there are some positive things happening in the world. 

Arrowmont_3_PaulaKovarik.jpg
Driving into Arrowmont, an oasis of creativity.

Driving into Arrowmont, an oasis of creativity.

I love teaching. Spending some concentrated time with dedicated artists is a gift that keeps on giving. I am inspired, honored and excited to be part of their creative process. When we happen upon little aha! moments during the week there is a real sense of accomplishment. It's a tonic for my soul.

Our workshop from the catwalk above. It's a great space to work in.

Our workshop from the catwalk above. It's a great space to work in.

So today, in 100 and above heat, I am dreaming of Arrowmont in October. It's a daydream of cool optimism. Join us if you can, there is still time to register. I'll be teaching free-motion quilting at its free-est.

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
October 21-27

 

growing a vocabulary

I spent the week making little marks. obsessively. They were small imprints that wanted out of my head. It felt like an unknown language, one that had deeper beginnings.

Listening to interviews of world leaders, analysts, pundits and disruptors it came to me that we are all speaking in code. No one seems ready to find a common language to solve the chaos. There is only cacophony.

So here are my little marks. standing on their own.

I wanted to see how small I could actually make them. These measure about 1-1.5 inches. I used a cotton canvas cloth with extra batting for dimension.

The challenge of making each one different slowed me down. I couldn't do more that 20 at a time without finding myself repeating marks. Some look like things, some look like letter characters. I let the thread tell me their character.

I added density with hand-stitched detail.

Glyphs. 27"x 18". So many dialogs, so little listening. The piece is almost finished.

focus on something else

One of the goals I set for myself this year is to invite curators and other artists to my studio to show my work. I've spent about two months recording, measuring and carefully storing the quilts that I have done in the past 10 years. I'm running out of closets and storage materials. So the question I ask myself lately is "what's the point?"

What's the point of spending hours on 2 square inches of a three by four foot square of fabric pieces stitching in little stitches, little stitches, little stitches. What's the point of going back to an unfinished piece to see if the answer to the problem is there on the 50th time I look at it? What's the point of taxing my body with every stitch, every ironing chore, every patch? Wouldn't I be more useful at a soup kitchen? or children's reading group? or making more protest signs and organizing the resistance?

Am I being selfish by spending time within rather than spending time reaching out?

And I don't have the answer. So I focus on something else.

Focus on Something Else, 2017, 32" x 32"

Making art keeps me healthy. Making art releases demons. Making art makes sense of confusion and brings confusion to sense.

I am compelled to do it -- without regard to results. Without regard for where it takes me. And sometimes it takes me to dead ends. Where my brain is blinkered and stupefied.

deadend, paula kovarik

That's when I look for another way to make little stitches, little stitches, little stitches.

Then I can think about something else. Something quiet and consuming. Something that closes away the worries, the news, the predictions, the warnings and the opinions that litter my consciousness. Red stitch, black stitch, green stitch, blue.

So maybe the question shouldn't be "what's the point?" so much as "where to go from here?"